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What is torticollis?

Torticollis is described as an abnormal positioning of the head and neck. It is a condition that occurs when the muscle that runs from the collarbone up and toward the back of the neck becomes tight, weakened, or thickened, causing the chin to point toward one shoulder, while the head tilts toward the opposite shoulder. There are two types: congenital muscular torticollis and acquired torticollis.

  • Congenital muscular torticollis is present at birth, and is usually discovered in the first 6 to 8 weeks of life. It typically results from abnormal positioning while in the uterus, and causes tightness in the muscles on one side of the neck. It is also the most common type of torticollis.
  • Acquired torticollis is developed after birth and can be caused by soft issue or bony abnormalities, vision problems, trauma and improper positioning.
  • Your baby may prefer to turn their head to one side only.
  • Your baby may hold their head tilted to one side with one ear closer to their shoulder.
  • There may be flattening or bulging on the back or the side of the head and changes in facial shape and facial features.
  • Your baby may prefer to breastfeed on one side only.
  • When your baby’s head is moved or they are put on their tummy, they become fussy and irritated.
  • The younger your baby is, the easier and more effective treatment will be.
  • If left untreated, torticollis can result in your baby learning to move with their head tilted and in mostly unilateral (one sided) movements.
  • Untreated torticollis can cause your baby’s head to flatten on one side and in severe cases, a curve in the spine can develop as they grow older.
  • Delayed treatment may require more attention than exercise and therapy. Early intervention can prevent the need for surgery and special medication.

How can Carolina Therapy Connection help?

At Carolina Therapy Connection, our physical therapists will work with you and your baby to develop goals for positioning their head and neck in midline, stretch tight muscles, and strengthen weak muscles. Our pediatric physical therapists will demonstrate and provide you with:

  • Positioning exercises
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Motor development exercises
  • Education on proper balance, coordination and strength
  • Tummy time tips (Tummy time encourages your baby to work at using his or her neck muscles to work out the tightness in the neck.)



How Do I Get Started?

If you are interested in scheduling a screening, evaluation, or just want to learn more about our services, call or email us to get started today! Our referral coordinator will help answer any questions you may have and make the process as easy as possible for you!

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